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Showing posts from 2011

Repair Windows Aero

FireFox has an annoying misfeature that either clobbers windows 7 aero (64-bit anyway) or allows one of its plugins to clobber aero. The problem happens because something spikes the Desktop Window Manager (dwm.exe) memory usage and Windows defensively turns off aero to maintain performance. I have a lot of windows (dozens) open when I am working; so many that [Alt][Tab] is very tedious to use. Instead, I use aero peek a lot to visualize and switch to other windows. When aero gets clobbered, it is a major pain. Instead of either suffering with the disabled interface or rebooting, I investigated, found a couple of commands to reset aero and wrote a batch file to automate them. Copy the text between the stars (***) and save as cyclescr.bat. Open a window as an administrator and run the program to reset aero. **** :*** cyclescr.bat *** : : cyclescr.bat -- Bob Trower Tue 11/01/2011 Ver. 0.00 : @echo off if "%1"=="" goto usage :cyclescr : net stop uxsms net start ux

Voting for Ron Paul

Facebook post: [If I could have] I would have voted for Ron Paul last time without hesitation. I *knew* the financial system was headed for a melt-down, that congress had shredded the U.S. Constitution and that the current military actions were essentially unlawful. Only one candidate addressed all three concerns and that was Ron Paul. The huge financial meltdown should not have been a surprise to anyone near the reins of power. I part company with RP on a number of things. However, things are way off base now. Anyone not heavily invested in the status quo (like you and me) would do much better with RP than anyone else. Severe corrective measures are needed to call back troops, fix the financial system (it is in complete ruins), restore the U.S. Constitution (ditto), restore the powers of the legislative assemblies and the states, reduce the federal government and restore the ordinary rule of law.Until those are done, most people do not have a disagreement with Ron Paul and he would

Windows 7 auto-hide task bar is broken

Windows 7 auto-hide task bar is broken. In fact, the 'auto-hide' option for the task bar has been broken since some time prior to Windows XP SP3. There is, as of this writing, no proper fix to this problem and as near as I can tell, Microsoft has not even acknowledged that it is an issue. In recent years, software manufacturers have taken to ducking some of the most irritating bugs by saying that they are 'by design'. This is not an explanation and it does not in any way absolve them of correcting the issue. SideRant: I have more confidence in my opinion of this matter than I do of theirs. I have been writing software for decades and have worked with every version of Windows since version 2 (before 3, 3.1, 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, and 7). I also work with Linux and have worked with various other Unices over the years. I have worked with a fair number of software vendors (including Microsoft) on their projects (that is, they hired me). I have also worked with just

Multi-Monitor Full-Screen Mode in IE9

Multi-Monitor Full-Screen Mode in IE9 Internet Explorer version 9 has a very compelling interface. It removes nearly all the clutter from the browser and gives over a maximum of real-estate to the web page itself. Better, in full screen mode, it gives over the entire screen to the web page. Unless you mouse to the top of the screen and get IE9 to reveal its title-bar, you see nothing but the web page. I am using IE9 in this full screen mode to post this article and even with 3 x 1680 x 1050 pixels of screen real-estate in a multi-monitor setup it makes a difference. For those with piddling netbook screens of 1024 x 600 it must be compelling indeed. My delight in finding this full-screen behavior was marred by the fact that it would only work on one of my three monitors. This is a perverse side-effect of one of the other features in IE9 called 'frame merging'. The fix for this is dead simple. You just have to launch IE9 with a command line similar to the following: "

Redeploying Itanium Chip Designers -- Part One

The Itanium is Doomed The Itanium is doomed; of that I have no doubt. That means that soon an entire ecosystem of architects and engineers will be looking for something to do. I suggest that we move them to a 'skunk-works' where they can recharge their batteries and reflect on lessons learned from their time working with the Itanium. [As an aside, I was informally asked if I wanted to work on the Itanium in the very early days of the project. I demurred, but mostly because it could only be as an employee and I worked for myself. But for the Grace of God ...] Problems Itanium Had to Solve The Itanium was intended to replace the x86 by addressing a variety of problems with the IA32 x86 architecture. It failed entirely in that mission. In no particular order, here is an incomplete list of the x86 deficiencies as they occur to me: It was 32 bits. Without getting into what 'bitness' might mean for a processor, it was not big enough. Addressing more than 2^32 bytes was dif

Is the Itanium Finally Dead?

The Intel Itanium was a still-born monster from day one. I had my doubts, as soon as I had any real information on that processor. When the first machines started coming out, it was clear that this was a total disaster. The Itanium was quickly named the Itanic and the name stuck. If Google's numbers are to be believed, the use of the term 'Itanic' outnumbers the use of the term 'Itanium' about 20 to 1. The product has been synonymous with EPIC (pun intended) failure almost since day one. The wonder is not that Intel is finally killing off the Itanium. The wonder is why it took so long and so much money to learn what should have been clear from the start. I published an article about the ongoing CPU struggle between AMD and Intel in 2000 (" Why Should AMD Drop Mustang? " under the pseudonym 'DeepNorth'. In the article, I say: "For the first half of 2002, Intel needs for McKinley to have such compelling performance advantages over 32-bit

What's the deal with the updates

Every time I attempt to load anything it has to spend a whole bunch of time doing updates. It is nice that software is so diligent in keeping up to date. I just wish it would find a way to do it without bugging me. Here's one of the most annoying. I've seen this a few times when loading FireFox: It is strongly recommended that you apply this update for Firefox as soon as possible. This has been coming up for a while now I always click next, and am presented with a message: The license file for this version could not be found. Please visit the Firefox homepage for more information. Sigh. This can be fixed, but it is *way* annoying and the fix is not something an ordinary PC user would be comfortable with doing. The short answer is to reboot and cross your fingers. There is a very long procedure that is more bothersome than just downloading the whole thing and installing a new copy. If the tortured procedure above (I am not going to put you through it) does not fix it,

Windows 7 Backup does not work

Windows 7 backup often fails for a variety of reasons. You can usually troubleshoot these by the error messages that it gives you. It is torture, but it can be done. However, doing both a successful backup and then a subsequent restore if your system fails is so unlikely as to be effectively impossible. Here is the simple rule for Windows backups: they only work when you don't need them. If you look on the web for some assistance for backup and restore you will find precious little information. What you do find is all but unusable by anyone who is not an expert. If everything is well and all goes smoothly, you can use instructions at sites like Here is a page on a vanilla restore from an existing backup: Restore a windows 7 backup I am making this post because I simply *had* to use Microsoft backup on Windows 7 and I *had* to restore that backup. It did not work. There are so many things that can fail with Windows backups that it is impossible

Our education system is broken

I have struggled over the years with a persistent feeling that there is something profoundly wrong with our system of education. I expect that everyone wonders, from time to time, if we might do things better. I am increasingly of the opinion that we could do things a lot better. However, I expect that this will require some very large changes to the way we do things now. I am reluctant to criticize the way people working in a field conduct their business. I have spent a significant portion of my career examining how people do their work and I have invariably found that people are skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious. They know what they are doing better than an outsider would. Often, even though it seems from the outside that things do not work as well as they should, a closer look will reveal that the problem domain is larger and more complex than it looks and the solutions being pursued by working experts in the field are mature and effective. I have spent a lot of time

upx error

Problem: upx fails to pack an executable under (at least) Windows 7 64-bit OS symptom: message upx: [exe name] IOException: file is write protected -- skipped solution: update upx to later version from

Compatibility mode not so compatible

I received the message below when re-starting Google Chrome: This application was unable to start correctly (0xc00000a5). Click OK to close the application) It turns out that it fails because I had it set to Windows XP 'compatibility mode' in Windows 7. I did that because Chrome kept crashing and I thought setting it back to a lesser version might be the cure. I was wrong. The fix: Find the icon for Chrome, right-click, choose 'Properties' and then the 'Compatibility Tab' and uncheck 'Run this program in compatibility mode". Save and go on your way. Note: If the checkbox is grayed out (disabled), use the 'Change settings for all users' button and set it there.